A new approach to tackle antisocial behaviour has been rolled out to Wirral secondary schoolchildren, as Merseyside Police and Birkenhead Sixth Form College join forces to help raise awareness about the issue.
Drama students at the College have delivered a hard-hitting play to visiting high schools which has key messages at its heart about the impact and consequences of antisocial behaviour amongst young people. Written by the Drama students themselves with the advice of local Neighbourhood Police Officers, ‘Bored’ tells the story of a group of high school children whose actions, that they perceive as just fun, escalate to dangerous levels. The play also shows the effects from the point of view of the victim, as well as the parents of those involved, as the new approach tries to use drama and peer-to-peer interaction to influence a change in attitudes.
"Antisocial behaviour can often be labelled a ‘low-level crime’, but to the victim, it’s never low-level.” - Merseyside Police Sgt Danny Murphy
Year 9s and 10s from The Birkenhead Park School, Ridgeway, Woodchurch and Prenton High Schools have all visited Birkenhead Sixth Form College to see the play so far. Special guests at the debut performances in the College’s drama studio this week included five Wirral Councillors, high-ranking Merseyside Police officers and Radio City chat show host Pete Price.
Speaking after the show, Pete Price said: “The biggest shock for me was that you can go to prison for this behaviour. I had no idea. I just didn’t know that if you’re involved in pestering and harassing someone so much that they take their own lives then you can be up on a manslaughter charge.”
Describing how many callers on his show over the years have been ‘absolutely distraught’ victims of antisocial behaviour, he continued: “I think if this approach can even stop one person in the audience from getting into these types of situations then it’s brilliant. Young people can be silly and not want to listen, and the most common thought is ‘that’ll never happen to me’, but I thought that the play really showed how easy it is for things to go from ‘a bit of fun’ to something a lot worse.”
Mr Price said of the College’s student cast and writers: “This is a group of young people doing something about a problem. They’re great kids and they did a fantastic job. I’m really glad I came and I feel like even I’ve learned something extremely valuable.”
Merseyside Police Local Neighbourhood Officer, Sgt Danny Murphy, who has been at the forefront of the project, said: “I thought ‘Bored’ was excellent. The key thing is to change attitudes. It’s not about demonising the kids but we’ve got to get this message across about considering your own behaviour and the knock-on effects it can have – on your own life and other people’s. The play enables the audience to see from the victim’s perspective as well, which is really important. Antisocial behaviour can often be labelled a ‘low-level crime’, but to the victim, it’s never low-level.”
Sgt Murphy continued: “We’d like to see the play rolled out to as many schools in the area as possible. We’ll continue to try to grow the project and hope to help raise awareness of an issue that effect so many people, in this area and across the country.”
Birkenhead Sixth Form College drama student, Abigail Thomson, who plays the parent of one of the key perpetrators in the production, said: “We’ve put a lot of work into the play, with both the writing and rehearsing, but it’s a really important subject to be addressing and I’m glad to be part of it. We’ve learned a lot ourselves and some of the statistics about antisocial behaviour and how common it is were shocking to find out. I hope the message comes across well to the audience and we’d love to make a real difference.”